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2Co 6:15 What harmony exists between the Messiah and Beliar, or what do a believer and an unbeliever have in common?

"Belial aka Beliar" is a Hebrew word meaning something like "worthlessness one":

H1100

בְּלִיַּעַל belı̂ya‛al bel-e-yah'-al From H1097 and H3276; without profit, worthlessness; by extension destruction, wickedness (often in connection with H376, H802, H1121, etc.): - Belial, evil, naughty, ungodly (men), wicked. Total KJV occurrences: 27

†בְּלִיַּ֫עַל S1100 TWOT246g GK117527 n.[m.] worthlessness (cpd. בְּלִי not, without and יַעַל worth, use, profit)—בּ׳ Dt 13:14 + 20 times; בְּלִיָּ֑עַל ψ 101:3 + 5 times;—the quality of being useless, good for nothing. 1. abstr. אִישׁ (ה)בליעל, אַנְשֵׁי הבליעל, worthless, good-for-nothing, base fellows 1 S 25:25; 2 S 16:7; 20:1; 1 K 21:13; Pr 16:27; = בֶּן־ב׳ 1 S 25:17, בְּנֵי ב׳ Dt 13:14; Ju 19:22; 20:13; 1 S 2:12; 10:27; 1 K 21:10, 13; 2 Ch 13:7; בַּת ב׳ 1 S 1:16 (drunken woman); עֵד ב׳ base witness Pr 19:28; דְּבַר ב׳ base, wicked thing ψ 41:9 (yet cf. 3 infr.), 101:3 (add prob. also 1 S 29:10, so 𝔊 We Dr); דָּבָר … ב׳ (elliptical and in apposition) Dt 15:9. 2. concr. elliptical of אישׁ ב׳ 2 S 23:6 Jb 34:18; כָּל־אִישׁ רַע וּבְלִיַּעַל 1 S 30:22; אָדָם בְּלִיַּעַל Pr 6:12. 3. ruin, destruction: so ψ 41:9 according to De Che al., but v. supr.; יֹעֵץ ב׳ counsellor of ruin Na 1:11; ב׳ alone a man of ruin, destroyer Na 2:1; נַחֲלֵי ב׳ floods of destruction (|| שְׁאוֹל) 2 S 22:5 = ψ 18:5.

Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (p. 116). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

The LXX translates it with παρανομοι:

Deu 13:13  Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;

(Brenton) (Deut 13:13) Evil men have gone out from you, and have caused > >all the inhabitants of their land to fall away, saying, Let us go and worship other gods, whom ye knew not,

(LXX) (Deut 13:13) Ἐξήλθοσαν ἄνδρες παράνομοι ἐξ ὑμῶν καὶ ἀπέστησαν πάντας τοὺς κατοικοῦντας τὴν πόλιν αὐτῶν λέγοντες Πορευθῶμεν καὶ λατρεύσωμεν θεοῖς ἑτέροις, οὓς οὐκ ᾔδειτε,

Paul seems to allude to this passage in 2 Thess 2:

2Th 2:3 Do not let anyone deceive you in any way, for it will not come unless the rebellion [ἀποστασία, "falling away"] takes place first and the man of sin, who is destined for destruction, is revealed. 2Th 2:4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship. As a result, he seats himself in the sanctuary of God and himself declares that he is God.

Modern OTs do not treat Belial as a proper name but rather as a common noun but Paul transliterates Belial as a name.

Does Paul consider the "man of sin" to be a person named "Belial"?

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3 Answers 3

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The question has jumped from 2 Corinthians ch. 6 and makes an invalid association with the "man of sin" of 2 Thess. 2:3 which is not meant in 2 Cor. 6. The verse is dealing with comparisons of opposites and being unequally yoked with unbelievers. It should not be lifted away from its companion verses of 14 and 16.

"14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. " (NKJV)

The "light", "Christ" and "believer" are equals, as "darkness", "Belial", and "unbeliever" are equals. Belial is only used this once in the NT.

Gr. Belial, Strong's 955: "955 Belíal (transliterated from the OT 1100 /glṓssa, "worthless, vile, wickedness") – Belial, an appellation of Satan which stresses his deep-seated wickedness – "the one who is utterly worthless because vile."

It is the opposite of the person of Christ, and therefor should be thought of as the person of the Adversary (Satan). But, in context Belial stands for all unbelievers, just all believers are in Christ.

To be ministrants of God (vs. 4) they could not walk with the wicked ones, the idolatrous unbelievers.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary on vs. 15:

"Belial—Hebrew, "worthlessness, unprofitableness, wickedness." As Satan is opposed to God, and Antichrist to Christ; Belial being here opposed to Christ, must denounce all manner of Antichristian uncleanness [Bengel].

he that believeth with an infidel—Translate, "a believer with an unbeliever." Source: here.

The "man of sin" of 2 Thess. 2:3 was speaking of a specific man, not of a type. The entire subject of 2 Thess. chap. 2 was the coming of Christ, and you will notice that it was spoken in the contemporary historical setting of the first century A.D.

2 Cor. 2:7,

"for the secret of the lawlessness doth already work, ..." (YLT)

Paul wrote the words in a letter to those living in the first century AD. The "man of sin", or the "lawlessness" was already at work in their time, so the falling away of verse 3 was about to happen when the letter was written. It involved the revealing of a particular man who would be working / acting under the influence of the Adversary / the devil with power and lying deceptions.

A full and complete discussion of that particular "man of sin" is beyond this question, and would be considered by the moderators as off topic. You can find much information on the contemporary historical aspect of the coming of the Lord, which is the subject of 2 Thess. chap. 2, at my site: ShreddingTheVeil.

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  • This response barely extends past information already provided by the question itself, and what little else it offers is just speculation. Belial is mentioned in other texts of the time period, so a developed answer should touch on those.
    – user2910
    Jun 26, 2017 at 14:35
  • I was attempting to be brief. Maybe the added material will be of some help.
    – Gina
    Jun 27, 2017 at 11:52
  • Hi Gina. I did a search of your site and did not find any reference to Belial, Beliar or Man of Sin.
    – Ruminator
    Jul 18, 2018 at 13:23
  • Ruminator, I was trying to point out the contemporary historical perspective of the writings of the new testament which is the subject of most of the posts at my site, & which is also the background setting for 2 Thess. ch. 2. I think I have side comments in one or two of my posts about the "man of sin", tho I can't remember where. But, I don't have a specific post on that individual, as I do not think we can identify him with info we have now. It is enough to know that whoever he was he was a Jew, and he lived at the time the book was written.
    – Gina
    Jul 18, 2018 at 21:57
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Belial

The best answer to the question, "who is Belial" is: Satan.

NIDNTTE gives this listing of meanings:

Βελιάρ G1016 (Beliar), Beliar (Belial)

Concept: Satan

JL This name evidently corresponds to Heb. ‏בְּלִיַּעַל‎ H1175, a word of disputed etym. meaning “uselessness” or “wickedness” (one of several proposals is that it derives from ‏בְּלִי‎ H1172, “without,” and ‏יָעַל H3603, “to profit”). Although sometimes the Vulg. transliterates with Belial (Judg 19:22; 1 Sam 1:16; et al.), the OT usage of the term give no real indication of a proper name (but cf. Nah 1:15 [MT 2:1]). Moreover, in almost every case the term is joined with others (e.g., “daughter of worthlessness” = “wicked woman,” 1 Sam. 1:16; “witness of worthlessness” = “corrupt witness,” Prov. 19:28). Only in later Jewish writings is Belial employed as a proper name for Satan (e.g., T. Reu. 4.7, 11) or the Pseudo-Messiah (e.g., T. Dan 5.10–11). And it is primarily in the DSS that Belial appears as the name of the evil one. God created two spirits, the spirit of light and the spirit or angel of darkness (Belial), who both exercise their power in the present (1QS I, 18; II, 5, 19; III, 20–23). Belial is the angel of malevolence (1QM XIII, 12), who lives in the hearts of his followers, the “sons of darkness” (1QS I, 10), and rules in the preacher of apostasy (CD XII, 2). Unchastity, riches, and defilement of the temple are the “three nets of Belial” (CD IV, 15). He and his followers are solemnly cursed (1QS II, 4–9; 1QM XIII, 4–5). The “spirits of his company” are “angels of destruction” (1QM XIII, 12). [Vol. 1, p. 505] In the last days, after the Qumran community has cut itself off from the rest of the people, Belial will be let loose against Israel (CD IV, 13), and in the final war the “sons of darkness” constitute Belial’s army (1QM I, 1, 13), which will be destroyed because God himself is fighting against him (1QM XI, 8–9; XV, 3; XVIII, 1, 3). In these writings, therefore, Belial is not an accuser, and accordingly he has no access to heaven or to God. Nor is it stated that Belial was the one who deceived Adam and so brought sin into the world.

NT The only occurrence of Belial/Beliar in the NT is found at 2 Cor. 6:15 (almost all Gk. mss. spell it Βελιάρ, a not uncommon substitution of one so-called liquid consonant for another). Here Paul stresses that the Christian faith is incompatible with pagan practices. The whole section (6:14–18) is reminiscent of the thought of Qumran, with its opposing pairs of ideas, such as righteousness and lawlessness, light and darkness, Christ and Beliar, believing and unbelieving, temple of God and temples of idols. The contrast between Christ and Beliar has suggested to some that the apostle identifies the latter with the Antichrist (cf. “the man of lawlessness” in 2 Thess. 2:3), but the context as a whole seems to indicate that Satan is in view. Why Paul would have chosen to use this name here is uncertain.

(The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis, s.v. “Βελιάρ,” 1:504.)

We note a number of details from this listing:

  • The lexicons list the meaning as "worthless" & "Good for nothing. (HALOT, s.v. “בְּלִיַּ֫עַל בְּלִיָּֽעַל,” 1:133.) (BDB, s.v. “בָּלָה,” 116.)
  • The word is not a name/title on its own. But when combined into a construct chain, it quickly takes on the context of a name.
  • Only after the OT closes do we see the title used for Satan.
  • The reference in 2 Corinthians is a hapax.
  • Of the two options, in context, "Satan" is the better choice than "Antichrist" (when it comes to figuring out the meaning of the title) since the following context clearly speaks of the contrast between true God and idols (leading all the way up to vs. 18)

Versional Usage

The citation of OT usage from the versions is of limited use. For they establish the definition that we already know from the Masoretic text, that these were "worthless" men:

  • “υἱοὶ παρανόμων” (Judges 19:22 LXXS-T) (sons of lawlessness
  • “filii Belial” (Judges 19:22 VULG-T) (sons of Belial)
  • ”ܓܒܪ̈ܐ ܥ݁ܘ̈ܠܐ“ (Judges 19:22 PESHOT-T) (men of wickedness)

The versional usage in the NT is, perhaps, more useful:

  • “Belial” (2 Corinthians 6:15 VULG-T)
  • ”ܐܰܘ ܐܰܝܕ݂ܳܐ ܫܰܠܡܽܘܬ݂ܳܐ ܐܺܝܬ݂ ܠܰܡܫܺܝܚܳܐ ܥܰܡ ܣܳܛܳܢܳܐ“ (2 Corinthians 6:15 PESHNT-T) ("or is it the case that there is agreement for Christ with Satan?"

While the Vulgate takes a formal approach, the Peshitta very clearly lets us know that Belial = Satan.

Conclusion

It's more likely that here, Belial is speaking of Satan than the "man of sin/lawlessness" in 2 Thessalonians.

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2 Corinthians 6:

15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

Belial Βελιάρ G955, this word appears exactly once in the Bible, including the LXX OT.
It comes from the Hebrew word בְּלִיַּעַל beliyyaal H1100. In LXX, H1100 is translated as worthless, etc., and it is not transliterated. In MT and LXX, it is not considered to be a proper name.

By the time of the Dead Sea scrolls, things changed:

In The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness,[20] one of the Dead Sea scrolls, Belial is the leader of the Sons of Darkness:

You made Belial for the pit, angel of enmity; in darkness is his domain, his counsel is to bring about wickedness and guilt. All the spirits of his lot are angels of destruction, they walk in the laws of darkness; towards it goes their only desire.[21]

It is used as a proper name here.

Does Paul consider the "man of sin" to be a person named "Belial"?

If not, Paul would have used it at least as a personification.

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